Comcast Launches HDTV

HDTV is finally getting another push from the cable industry, according to the announcement from Comcast Cable Communications last week that it will soon launch HDTV services. Comcast estimates that the HDTV service will reach more than 1.3 million customers in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware, providing access to high definition broadcasts of ABC, NBC, CBS, HBO, and Showtime in November.

Comcast points out that it is the only company in the region to offer such a "robust lineup" of high definition programming. Comcast also revealed that over the next several months, the company plans to offer HDTV service to customers in parts of central and northern New Jersey as well. The company has a total of 3.1 million cable customers Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Connecticut.

The company's Michael Doyle says, "We are always working to provide our customers with the latest and best in television technology. The company has invested millions of dollars in the complete upgrade of our fiber-optic cable network, in order to provide our customers with cutting-edge services, including digital cable, high-speed Internet, and video-on-demand. HDTV, the most sophisticated form of television commercially available, is the next step in this process."

Since most commercial television sets do not yet have built-in HDTV tuners, Comcast says it will make set-top tuners available to customers. In addition, Comcast says that digital cable customers who have an HDTV-ready set will now be able to rent or purchase a set-top box similar to their current digital tuner, which will allow them to view channels broadcast in high definition. The company adds that customers will also be able to continue to view standard analog and digital stations on their HDTV sets.

Comcast says its HDTV package includes the rental of an HDTV decoder and will be available to digital cable customers for $10.95 per month. For those wanting to avoid a monthly charge, the company says, decoders can also be purchased at cost, for approximately $300.